Monday, June 3, 2013

Iconoplasty, Schwervon!, JamesPlaneWreck and CAMP @ the Crux (5/29/13)

I learned about this show thanks to a press release that I'd received about a month prior.  It came from Olive Juice Music, a DIY label now based in Kansas City.  It invited me to hear the new album by one of their bands, Schwervon!, and to see them play the Crux.  After I listened to the album, I emailed back that I definitely wanted to see them.

It didn't hurt either that this show would be the last (around these parts, anyway) set up by my friend Keesha Renna's Vagabond Promotions.  Keesha's moving to North Dakota to work and to see what she can see.  I wish her all the best.  I also hope that she doesn't forget about us here in Boise.

I counted eight people at the Crux when I got down there.  The crowd never rose above twenty.  Also, that number consisted mainly of people connected in some way to the bands (friends, girlfriends, bandmates, etc.).  So it goes.

Cameron Andreas of CAMP played a solo set to kick off the show.  After his set, Andreas said that he hadn't known beforehand what he was going to play.  It showed: his straight-ahead riffing, heavily reverbed vocals, metronomic beats and whirring, hissing noises felt scattered.  His songs were still plenty appealing, but they'd have been more so with a full band.  Or, barring that, a more deliberate presentation.

JamesPlaneWreck played next.  I'd approached this set with some trepidation, having read on Facebook that a wrist injury had sidelined bassist Shaun Shireman.  They made up for this lineup shortfall, however, by playing what amounted to a plugged-in unplugged set.  Aaron Smith and Shane Brown kept their guitars at a nice simmer while Andrew Bagley injected a gentle, jazzy swing into his brushwork.  The reduced volume allowed the grim wit and somber stoicism of Smith's lyrics to move to the fore.  In this regard, this performance felt not dissimilar to, say, Nirvana taking a seat and turning down the noise.  As for the handful of sour notes?  Hey, like the songs point out, life has sour notes.

Schwervon! played next.  While this Kansas City (Kansas) band's consistently catchy tunes called to mind R.E.M., their sharp arrangements called to mind Wire or Sleater-Kinney.  Matt Mason's buzzing guitar and earnest murmur bounced with and off Nan Turner's sturdy, angular drumming and strong, sweet chirp.  They sounded thin when they needed to and massive when they needed to.  They liked their drones but knew better than to regard them as the secret of life.  Best of all, not only did they take care to make their lyrics heard, they took care to make their lyrics worth hearing.  "Daydream Ration," for example, is definitely among the smarter put-downs of indie ironic cool that I've heard ("You've got the reverb hanging from the bathroom wall./ You're just a little too eager now to not care at all.").  Now if only I didn't feel so dumb for not realizing that Mason was the one with whom I'd been communicating via email.

Josh Gross closed out the night with the strongest Iconoplasty set that I've heard so far.  His set structure may have solidified, but that let him lean harder into his riffing and make his layers of beats hit with greater precision.  The smoother transitions between segments also helped the music bite harder.  Chances seem good that he won't get caught slacking when he goes on tour with Red Hands Black Feet in August.

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